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Ingles Open Road: International Storytelling Center

Do you have that special friend or family member who tells the absolute best stories? Maybe there are some that no matter how many times you hear them you still ask for those favorite tales from a time gone by. Well, today we’re visiting a place that is a sanctuary of storytelling in the heart of Tennessee’s oldest town. So, settle in for a good one.

This is the International Storytelling Center. Located in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It got its start in 1973 with the first ever National Storytelling Festival. Every October since that year the crowds have returned to this place to experience the power of story.

And in 2002 the doors opened for the first time here at the International Storytelling Center. Spread out over 3 acres and just a stone’s throw from the site of the first festival, this was the first facility anywhere in the world devoted solely to the tradition of storytelling.

Now more than two decades later, the International Storytelling Center’s renowned Storytelling Live performance series features dozens of nationally known storytellers in live afternoon concerts every afternoon at 2 p.m. from May through October on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Today we’re lucky enough to catch Andy Offutt Irwin, one of the most sought-after performing storytellers in the United States.

Stories like these are amazing. They transport you through the performance of the storyteller and the use of your own imagination as you picture the events unfolding as you take them in. This is a style as old as humanity and as fresh as the next great yarn.

And that’s what’s so great about this place. The LA Times wrote that for what New Orleans is for Jazz, Jonesborough is for storytelling. It’s in the air here. Jonesborough is a charming small town with a rich history – in fact, it’s Tennessee’s oldest town, and is also known as the storytelling capitol of the world.

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